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ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATION POLICY

MEDCENTRAL ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATION POLICY

As of 08/03/2024

 

Telephone calls, Emails and SMS – For patients

 

SMS

Our patients will be given the option of being contacted by electronic means such as via email and/or SMS.

 

It is acknowledged by the practice that consent is implies if the patient initiates electronic communication with the

practice.

The signed consent on the registration form will be scanned and recorded in the patient electronic record, this includes their signed consent to receiving electronic communication.

The consent form will state that the practice may use this mode of communication:

 

  • To send SMS reminders for a scheduled appointment

  • When a patient needs to make an appointment to review a test result or specialist letter.

  • As a reminder that a generic preventative screening test or health care plan review is due (for example, flu vaccine, skin check, cervical screening, routine blood test, annual GPMP)

Further information regarding electronic communication between the practice and patients:

  • MedCentral complies with the Australian Privacy Principles and the Privacy Act 1988.

  • MedCentral cannot guarantee confidentiality of information transferred via email (if using encryption, please state how your encryption works)

  • Communications will not contain sensitive information, due to risk of confidential information being accessed inadvertently or intentionally by a third party

  • Communications will not contain results that only the general practitioner should be divulging in a follow-up appointment, i.e. abnormal results, education concerning new diagnosis, etc.

  • When recalling a patient for a test result, the extent to which patients are followed up will depend on the level of urgency and the clinical significance of their test results. If the patient has not responded to 3x non-urgent recall messages, and a follow-up call, then a letter will be sent by email or post.

  • All forms of electronic communication between the practice and patients is recorded in the electronic patient health record.

 

EMAIL

  • Email response time – Each email account has an automated reply message advising on the time frame each email should receive a response. These may be changed to reflect busy periods, but the standard wait time is generally set at 2-3 business days.

  • Patients should not use email to contact the practice in an emergency (also included in the automated reply email)

  • The practice email account for patients and stakeholders for non-urgent communication with our practice is admin@medcentralclinic.com.au

This account is routinely checked throughout the business day by reception staff.
The email message will then be forwarded to the appropriate team member for response.
Communication conducted with a patient via electronic means will be added into the electronic patient health record by the staff member resolving the enquiry, as well as any action taken.

RETURN CALLS

An incoming telephone is the principle method for initial and subsequent communication by patient and most other person/s in this practice. As such, the telephone is recognized as a vital vehicle for creating positive first impressions, displaying a caring, confident attitude and acting as a reassuring source for our patients and all others.

Staff are aware of alternative methods of communication used by patients with a disability or language barrier.

Staff are mindful of confidentiality, and respect the patients right to privacy. When checking the three patient identifiers staff will ask a series of prompting questions and not openly state complete patient details within earshot of other patients or visitors.

The practice prides itself on the high calibre of customer service we provide, especially within the area of patient security, confidentiality, and right to privacy, dignity and respect.

It is important for patients telephoning our practice to have urgency of their needs determined promptly. Staff are to obtain adequate information from the patient to assess whether the call is an emergency before placing the call on hold.

Staff are trained initially, and on an ongoing basis to recognize urgent medical matters and the procedures for obtaining urgent medical attention. Reception staff have been informed of when calls should be put through to clinical staff.

Staff are aware of each doctors policy on accepting and returning calls.

Messages taken for non-urgent follow-up are documented for the doctors action and attention.

Administration staff does not give treatment or advice over the telephone, unless having been instructed to do so by a doctor.

Results of test are not given out over the phone, a face-to-face appointment is required.

A phone answering message is maintained and activated to advise patients of how to access after-hours care.

 

Procedure

  • Answer the phone and state: Good morning/afternoon MedCentral Clinic, this is ……………., how may I help you? 

  • If on another line or assisting a patient, when answering a second call ascertain that it is not urgent then ask them to please hold while you finish up and return to the first caller/patient.

  • Under no circumstance should the second caller be asked to hold the line without discussing if the matter is urgent 

  • A problem deemed by the patient, or an apprehensive parent to be urgent should always be seen the same day if assessed to be reasonable.
    Asthma or breathing difficulties, abdominal pain, earache, migraine, vomiting, diarrhea, in small children are examples of problems that cannot be left until the next day. If in doubt always consult with a registered nurse or doctor.

  • Do not leave a caller on hold for long periods, if necessary, pick up the line and assure them you have not forgotten them and will not be much longer.

  • If a call involves seeking information that is not readily available, offer to ring the caller back, this will alleviate the patients anxiety and prevent engaging telephone lines for long periods of time.

  • All telephone messages should record the patients name, contact number, date and time of the message and the name of the staff member who took the call.

  • Follow individual doctors procedures for receiving and returning telephone calls.

Policy review

 

Our electronic communication policy will be reviewed quarterly to ensure accordance with any changes.

Next review date due: 31/05/2024

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